Nick Lowe Enthralls Grammy Museum Crowd
Nick Lowe Enthralls Grammy Museum Crowd

Portishead
Nick Lowe who told the audience at the Grammy Museum last night that "As you get older, it's more fun to sing the blues. It cheers you up."

The history of Nick Lowe, from his childhood favorites to Brinsley Schwartz and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" to his upcoming album "This Old Magic," was examined Tuesday in a 90-minute session that included a seven-song concert at the Grammy Museum. His usual affable self, Lowe was candid and wry in addressing the questions of moderator Scott Goldman, VP of foundations for the Recording Academy, and members of the audience, talking about songwriting, producing and feeling washed up at 35.

In the late 1960s, he said, reminiscing about bands in which he would play bass because no one else would, "we realized that if you want to have a career you have to figure out how to write your own songs." The formula, he said was to rewrite one idol after another until you were mixing and matching items from two or three of your songwriting heroes.

"There's nothing original under the sun -- it's all what you put into the stew," said Lowe, 62. "The first original idea I ever had - and I still do remember (coming up with it) -- was '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?' I pinched a bit from Judee Sill's 'Jesus was a Crossmaker.' " He wondered "where did that come from? It threw me for a loop for awhile."

A standing room only crowd that included Yep Roc co-owner Glenn Dicker, New West Records A&R chief Peter Jesperson, Warner Chappell senior VP of A&R Greg Sowders and talent manager Dan Perloff, filled the 220-seat theater in the L.A. Live museum space. Also on hand were two legendary drummers, Blondie's Clem Burke and Pete Thomas of the Attractions, both of whom thrilled fans with cameraphones by posing with Keith Moon's drum kit in the museum lobby.

Performing solo on acoustic guitar, Lowe's set included two new songs from "The Old Magic," which Yep Roc will release Sept. 13, "Sensitive Man" and "I Read a Lot." Bookended by "Heart" and "When I Write the Book," Lowe's set included "Battlefield," "Cruel to be Kind" and "Raining Raining."

Among his other musings:

First artist to catch his attention: Tennessee Ernie Ford. "He sounded like he was from another planet."

Inspiration for his first popular band Brinsley Schwartz: Little Feat, the Band, James Brown.

Top two songwriters: Bob Dylan is "the greatest." Randy Newman "is in there but he's not as prolific."

First thoughts about Elvis Costello's music: "Too many words and too many chords."

Best advice: "Johnny Cash said 'just be yourself.' I thought who wants to see that? Yet that's absolutely totally true. You have to learn stage craft, but if you can figure out how to be yourself, that's the secret."
On Rockpile: "The reason I am here is because of Rockpile. … I was fan of Dave Edmunds' band Love Sculpture and I went out of my way to make friends with him. It's hard to see him now. He's a lonely man." There will not be a reunion.

On Little Village with John Hiatt, Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner: "The record was not good and I'll blame it on the record company. (Hiatt's) 'Bring the Family' (recorded with the same band) was fabulous because we only had four days to do it. When Warner Brothers said step this way into this recording studio and take as much time as you want, there was too much time. … The shows were good." Again, no reunion likely.

On aging: "As you get older, it's more fun to sing the blues. It cheers you up."